- Iran on Saturday admitted that it shot down Ukrainian Airlines flight 752, which crashed near Tehran on Wednesday with 176 people on board.
- A statement from Iran’s military said it shot down the plane by accident after it got close to a military base.
- Iran’s foreign minister blamed the shooting on “human error,” brought about by an atmosphere of crisis caused by the sudden escalation of Iran’s conflict with the US.
- Iran at first sought to blame the crash on a mechanical fault on board the plane, but changed its story on Saturday.
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Iran admitted shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet with 176 people on board, which it says was the result of human error.
In a statement by military officials early Saturday, Iran admitted hitting Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752 with a missile earlier this week.
It said that the plane flew close to a sensitive military site and was mistaken for a threat.
“In such a condition, because of human error and in a unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the Iranian statement said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani echoed the sentiment in a statement via Twitter, noting that investigations will continue “to identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” Rouhani said in a follow-up tweet. “My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.”
The shoot-down came hours after Iran launched a missile attack on US troops stationed in Iraq, while the military was on high alert.
That strike, which failed to kill any US troops, was itself retaliation for the death of Iran’s most prominent military commander, Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump.
Iran initially denied responsibility for the plane crash, which it sought to blame on a mechanical problem with the jet, a Boeing 737-800.
It made the admission two days after the US, Canadian, and British governments blamed the crash on an Iranian missile, citing their intelligence agencies.
Not long after Iran admitted shooting down the plane, its foreign minister sought to also blame the US.
In a tweet, Javad Zarif described the cause as “human error at a time of crisis caused by US adventurism.”
—Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 11, 2020
This is a developing story. We will update as more details become available.